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WND's Paul Nehlen Problem

WorldNetDaily published a book by an anti-establishment Republican who quickly turned into an anti-Semitic white nationalist. While WND (eventually) stopped selling Nehlen's book, it has never publicly denounced him or his views.

By Terry Krepel
Posted 2/28/2018

Paul Nehlen

Falling out of business with Paul Nehlen has apparently proven for WorldNetDaily to be much more difficult than going into business with him.

Nehlen ran a quixotic campaign against powerful House Speaker Rep. Paul Ryan in 2016 in the Republican primary. (How quixotic? Nehlen lost by 68 percentage points.) That put him on WND's radar, and it effectively went into business with him. WND published Nehlen's anti-"globalist" book "Wage the Battle" in July 2017, which also apparently serves as a manifesto of sorts for his equally quixotic 2018 primary challenge against Paul Ryan.

WND also began selling in its online store a Nehlen-produced anti-Muslim film called "Hijrah," which purports to expose "the dark underworld of the Muslim refugee crisis."

But WND was also in business with Nehlen in another way: It was effectively the PR shop for Nehlen's long-shot campaign, in an apparent attempt to make it somewhat less quixotic.

The June 16 WND article announcing Nehlen's candidacy was written by Paul Bremmer -- who works on the marketing side, not the "news" side, not that there's much difference between the two at WND in practical terms -- touted Nehlen's "spirited" campaign against Ryan in 2016 but didn't mention he lost by 68 points, or that WND published his book, which is prominently promoted in the article.

This was followed by a series of articles featuring Nehlen bashing Ryan:

  • An anonymously written June 25 article let Nehlen complain that Ryan is "actively thwarting" President Trump and is "giving a blank check to the left's priorities."
  • On July 14, Liam Clancy -- an WND "news" intern -- abandoned any pretense of journalistic balance in writing of Nehlen: "Everyday Americans are sick of the corruption in Washington, and one man plans to 'drain the swamp' himself, by starting in his own congressional district."
  • A July 26 article by Clancy touted Nehlen's tweeting that "'Ryan never misses an opportunity to undermine [President Trump]' and that Ryan has spent more time defending Mueller rather than defending 'this nation from illegal aliens,' defending President Trump, and defunding 'Obama’s spending priorities,'" adding, "Stop and think about how much good work we could do if Paul Ryan was an America First guy."
  • An anonymously written July 29 article gave Nehlen a platform to rant about "we have a Congress full of spineless jellyfish, unwilling to fulfill their oath of office to protect and defend this country from enemies foreign and domestic." the anonymous writer also gushes over "Hijrah" as "the most explosive documentary of the year. It reveals an Islamic invasion like no other before it."
  • An Aug. 1 article by Bremmer was a fluffy profile of Nehlen, pumping up his credentials as a "businessman and inventor" and hyping Nehlen's alleged hope to "bring a message of hope and encouragement to business leaders and working-class people – not just in Wisconsin’s first district, but all across America."
  • An anonymously written Aug. 26 article promoted how Nehlen "contends the speaker [Ryan] is betraying the GOP grassroots by failing to forcefully condemn 'Antifa.'" (The anonymous writer also asserted without evidence that Antifa "instigated the violence in Charlottesville.")

"Hijrah" also got the promotional treatment, even though WND wasn't involved in its production. WND radio guy Greg Corombos highlighted in a May interview with Nehlen how the film claims to show that the "ultimate goal" of Muslims "is to populate non-Muslim nations to the extent needed to impose Shariah law" and attacks "nine voluntary agencies, or volags, that facilitate refugee resettlement in the U.S." Another May article by Bremmer touted Nehlen praising far-right French politician Marion Le Pen because "she has expressed a desire to secure the French borders and stop the Islamization of France."

And even before Nehlen officially announced his campaign, WND was giving Nehlen a platform to bash Ryan:

In none of these articles, however, does WND indicated they ever attempted to contact Ryan for a response on Nehlen's attacks. That tell us that this is public relations -- not news. Which makes WND's work an in-kind contribution to Nehlen's campaign.

The Federal Election Commission has laws regulating the use and disclosure of in-kind contributions. Both Nehlen and WND would be wise to follow them. Unless, of course, Nehlen is actually paying WND for all of this fawning, uncritical press, in which case that would have to be disclosed as well.

WND, however, soon had something even bigger than potential campaign law violations to worry about regarding Nehlen.

In late 2017, Nehlen began a public descent into white nationalism and anti-Semitism. He was caught unironically using triple parentheses around a Jewish name -- a trope that white nationalists use to harass Jews on Twitter -- and he has strongly suggested his critics are being paid by Jews to attack him. He has also embraced other white nationalist memes. It got so bad that Breitbart -- which had been an even more enthusiastic booster of Nehlen than WND -- cut ties with him in December.

What was WND's response to Nehlen's extremism? Crickets. While it hadn't promoted him since mid-September -- the last article doing so was a Sept. 14 piece by Paul Bremmer touting Nehlen's declaration that "America demands a wall. You cannot effectively deport a criminal without a wall" -- it also hasn't said a peep about the controversies surrounding him as they grew. One would think that as the publisher of Nehlen's book and seller of his Muslim-bashing film, it would have something to say.

Then again, WND seems weirdly proud that it can keep its racism relatively covert, at least to the point that Google no longer threatens to pull its advertising over race-baiting, as it did in 2014 when WND was heavily promoting the "black mob violence" rants of Colin Flaherty.

Ever-so-slowly backing away, still publicly silent

Meanwhile, Nehlen turned even more anti-Semitic, ranting about "Jewish media" and coordinating with alt-right supporters to attack it.

Throughout all of this, however, WND has continued selling Nehlen's book -- both print and e-book editions were for sale in WND's online store as recently as late January, and it was still popping up in the italic-type promotions among the headlines on its front page. WND did, however, stop selling "Hijrah" at some point in mid- to late January, though the Internet Archive listed "Hijrah" as being available from the store as recently as Jan. 11, well after the Nehlen controversy started.

And despite the growing disgust with Nehlen among conservatives, WND has yet to issue a public statement regarding its relationship with Nehlen.

Why? One reason could be that WND's book division appears to have gone at least somewhat dormant. The WND Books Twitter account hasn't made a post since October, the "coming soon" page of its website features books that have been out for nearly a year, and its front page was still featuring, yes, Paul Nehlen's book.

Still, even though WND is shedding personnel as it circles the drain, you'd think Joseph Farah -- you know, the guy who runs the company -- would want to take a few minutes away from issuing pleas for money to say something about an author it published whose increasingly offensive and discrediting behavior is affecting WND's reputation and future business prospects (well, as much as it can be affected at this point, given that WND already has a well-earned reputation for fake news).

This is a public-relations crisis WND should be addressing, but it's not for some reason -- it couldn't possibly need money so badly as to continue to sell the book of an anti-Semite.

Sometime in the last week of January, though, WND did finally remove Nehlen's book from its online store. Both the book and its e-book edition now return "page not found" errors.

Meanwhile, Nehlen's book and an author bio remained on the WND Books website, and the idea that WND's book division had slipped into dormancy appears to have some merit. A Feb. 4 WND article announced the naming of a new editorial director for WND Books: Felicia Dionisio, who spent the past 15 years as a WND news editor. Now that someone's actually in charge of WND Books, perhaps Dionisio could make a definitive public statement about its current relationship with Nehlen.

That didn't happen either, but sometime in mid-February -- perhaps moved by Nehlen tweeting an image of Prince Harry's mixed-race fiancee Meghan Markle's face photoshopped onto Cheddar Man, an early Briton recently revealed to be dark-skinned, and the Wisconsin Republican Party subsequently dissociating itself from him and Twitter indefinitely suspending him -- "Wage the Battle" and Nehlen's bio disappeared from the WND Books website. It's not clear whether WND has withdrawn the book from the marketplace; as of this writing, new copies of both the paper and e-book editions are still available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble, so it still appears to be available.

And still, there has been no public statement from WND about Nehlen, and our emails to WND asking for one have not been answered (though they may have prompted WND to remove Nehlen's book from its websites). WND has not handled this well, and certainly not with any sort of moral clarity.

Not the first

Nehlen, it so happens, is not the only WND-linked writer in trouble for racially charged rhetoric in recent months. In October, contrarian investor Marc Faber got caught saying that he thanked God that "white people populated America, and not the blacks. Otherwise, the U.S. would look like Zimbabwe." He has since been forced to step down from an investment management firm at at least two corporate boards.

Needless to say, WND didn't do a story on the Faber controversy. It has, however, promoted Faber's pronouncements in the past:

  • A 2009 column by apt pupil Hilmar von Campe noted in an anti-Obama rant that "Marc Faber, better known as Dr. Doom, compares U.S. financial policy with Zimbabwe’s."
  • In a 2010 column, Dan Mangru mentioned Faber's description of Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke as "the money printer."
  • A September 2014 column by Mark Liebowit ("one of the investment world’s top-rated gold timers, and helps investors anticipate and benefit from both the ups and the downs of the precious metals markets with his Leibovit VR Gold Letter (available to WND readers at a huge discount)") touted how "Marc Faber, noted Swiss investor, frequent guest on Fox Business and CNBC, and author of 'Tomorrow’s Gold: Asia’s Age of Discovery,' was interviewed recently on Palisade Radio. Faber sees reasonable value in the gold mining stocks right now, and in fact says gold mining stocks are deflated, he says government bonds and other assets are essentially inflated."
  • An October 2014 article by Leo Hohmann promoting WND fellow traveler Jonathan Cahn's book "The Shemitah" listed Faber among the "billionaires investors" who "see a major market correction coming and that it could be worse than 2008, adding, "Faber warns of 'massive wealth destruction' coming to America in which he predicts 'well-to-do people will lose up to 50 percent of their wealth.'"
  • Liebowit touted Faber again in a February 2015 column, focusing on his claim that "much of the world is tiring of U.S. government intervention and that it may even drive Western Europe out of NATO and into alliance with Russia."
  • WND has also published at least two videos of Faber's TV appearances.

While it appears Faber said nothing racist or offensive while intersecting with WND, it does show the company in which WND travels. As much as WND editor Joseph Farah (falsely) claims WND doesn't traffic in racism, it sure hangs around a lot of racists and race-baiters.

Perhaps those ties, on top of its inability to handle the Nehlen crisis, is more evidence that WND doesn't deserve to live.

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